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may not have been occasioned by indisposition to work against an ill-fitting or dirty collar, which may have produced abrasion or tenderness of the skin under it (see page 61). If the unpleasantness proceed from innate stubbornness in the brute, and simple means do not succeed in single harness, place him in double harness, beside a well-tempered, good worker, that will drag him away, starting down-hill. In this manner the habit, if not confirmed, will be overcome. In extreme cases, different appliances have been used with varied success in making the beast move on—such as a round pebble, about the size of a hen's egg, placed in the ear, and secured with a cord tied round the latter, near the tip, or stuffing a glove in each ear. I have also seen coachmen put two or three handfuls of mud into the horse's mouth, and rub it against his palate with good effect, or tap him with a stick at the back of the fore legs, just under the knee.
Letting a stubborn beast stand for hours in harness in the spot where he has taken the fit, and, when he has become well hungered, placing a feed of corn before him and gradually walking away with it, is a dilatory proceeding sometimes resorted to, but scarcely worth mentioning.
The size of horses should be in proportion to the weight and size of the vehicle and loads they are intended to move, upon the principle, easily demonstrated by experiment, that weight drags weight. For instance, a horse having to drag a cart up a hill, will do so more easily with the driver on his back than otherwise, as the weight of the man assists the horse against the weight he has to move. The latter part of this argument only refers, however, to short distances, or to starting a draught.
The higher the wheels are, and the closer together, whether they be two or four, the lighter will be the draught. In fact, to render the draught as easy as possible, the axles ought to be on a level with the tracehooks, or point of traction, or as nearly horizontal as possible with the traces and their place in the leg of the hames. It is self-evident that if a horse has to be pulling up, it is like his having to raise a certain part of the weight of the carriage with every step he moves; and the faster he goes, the more injuriously does this principle operate against him.
The point of the pole-and-chain attachment should be always so elevated from its insertion in the carriage as to be on a level with the rings of the hames through which the pole-chains pass. On the point of the pole should be a revolving steel cross-tree, from eight to ten inches in length, in the ends of which the pole-chains or leathers are inserted. The working of this contrivance will, to any practical man, demonstrate its utility.
In light double harness, I much prefer using swinging-bars instead of one inflexible splinter-bar, unless for very heavy draught. Horses should be placed close to their work. For adjusting the traces to that effect, see page 58.
It should be remembered that the farther forward in a carriage the weight to be drawn is placed, the easier will be the draught on the horse. Thus the weight of one man at the extreme end of the vehicle (like a conductor on an omnibus) has as much effect on the traction as that of two men on or near the driving-seat. The deader the weight, let it be placed as it may, the greater the trial of the horse; therefore inanimate matter is heavier on traction than anything having life.
Vehicles of which the lower carriage and axles are kept braced together by a perch steadying the action of the wheels, are much the easiest on the draught. The Americans are well aware of the advantages of such a construction for encountering the roughness of many of their roads. Not only are all their pleasure carriages, or "buggies," so constructed, but the waggons have a perch that by an admirable arrangement can be detached, to allow of the carriage being lengthened when required to carry timber or other lading. The perch, being in two pieces, can be coupled by the simple contrivance of a movable iron band and pin, giving a freedom, most desirable in a rough country, to the movement of the lower carriage. This contrivance works well, and might with advantage be applied to our military train-waggons and ambulance-carts. Horses cannot but suffer from the present construction of carriages in general use, where the axles are left unsupported and unbraced to encounter the roughness and inequalities of the road.
Axle-Boxes.—Proper lubrication of the axle-boxes is too often sadly neglected. Even Collinge's patent will not run freely without periodical aid in proportion to use, and it is no harm to make an occasional examination of the wheels of a carriage when they are lifted off the ground by setters, to see' that there is thorough freedom in the working of them, by spinning them round with one's finger against the spokes. The reapplication of gutta-percha or leather washers is essential, as the amount of friction by work will wear that requisite.
For a few days after the washers are replaced, the boxes should not be screwed too tightly, but subsequently they should be re-tightened. The noise of wheels joggling upon their axles indicates want of screwing up, or of washers.
A round tire is decidedly easier for draught than a flat-edged one.
Carriages, immediately after use, should be cleaned, or at least have water dashed over them, to prevent the mud from drying on the paint, which can scarcely fail to deteriorate it, and give it a premature appearance of wear.
Some horses are very averse to being shod, through some fright the first time of shoeing, or bad management. It is better to overcome such shyness or vice by gentleness or stratagem than by force of any kind.
Some few animals even require to be cast, or placed under the influence of the painful twitch. Before resorting to any force, however, the following means should be tried in preference to others :—Let whoever is in the habit of riding or exercising the horse mount Mm when regularly bridled and saddled, the girths being a little looser that if intended for work; ride to the side of the forge, and there let him (his rider still on his back) be shod the first time; on the second visit to the forge, if it be spacious enough, he may be ridden into it for the same purpose.
In shoeing, the smith's rule ought to be to fit the shoe to the foot, not the foot to the shoe, according to the general practice of those gentry.
In London and all large towns, the best thing a gentleman can do is to contract with a veterinary surgeon for the shoeing as well as the doctoring of his horses.
The night previous to a horse being shod or removed, the groom should stop his feet, to soften them, and enable the farrier to use his drawing-knife properly, and without injury to that instrument.
In shoeing, any undue accumulation of sole may be pared away; judgment must, however, be used in this particular, as the feet of some animals grow more sole than others, and superfluous increase tends to contraction, whereas care must be taken not to .weaken the sole of ordinary growth. I am aware that great difference of opinion exists on this subject, but I speak from practical experience of the results of opposite modes of treatment in this particular.
If no shoes were used, the wear and tear of work would provide for the disposal of this accumulation, which, as nature is interfered with by the use of shoes, must be artificially removed.
If the frog be jagged it may be pared even, but the sound parts should not be cut away, and on no account should the smith's drawing-knife be allowed to divide the bars or returns of the foot—an operation technically called by the trade "opening the heels," to which fallacious practice farriers are pertinaciously addicted, because, in some one case of dreadfully contracted feet, they may have seen or heard of temporary relief being given by this process, with the natural result, which they ignore, of the remedy proving itself in time worse than the disease.